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Long Beach council to vote on transgender worker protections

Long Beach City Hall is seen on March

Long Beach City Hall is seen on March 28, 2013. Photo Credit: Tara Conry

Long Beach City Council members are to vote Tuesday on policy updates to protect transgender city employees from workplace discrimination.

The change adds a person’s sex or gender to the city’s list of anti-discrimination protections in its employee policy manual that already includes race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation.

The policy change defines sex as “a person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not that gender identity ... is different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned at birth.”

Similar anti-discrimination transgender protection bills were adopted in Suffolk County in 2014 and in the Town of North Hempstead last year.

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said the council has been working for several months to update the city manual first drafted in 2007.

“We are amending the policy to further safeguard and to insure that no discrimination shall be tolerated when it comes to an employee’s gender identity, self-image, appearance or expression,” Schnirman said. “Long Beach is an inclusive, welcoming community that does not discriminate against any individuals.”

The policy was unrelated to an announcement that next year’s PrideFest will be held in Long Beach over three days. Schnirman said the new legislation follows the spirit of inclusion in the LGBT community.

David Kilmnick, chief executive of the Long Island LGBT Network, said Long Beach’s legislation takes a progressive step forward to match similar protections in Suffolk County and New York City.

“The Long Beach bill ensures the transgender community is included in human rights protections for residents and employees in the city,” Kilmnick said. “It turns out we made the right decision bringing PrideFest to a city in Long Island that’s truly inclusive of the LGBT community.”

Kilmnick criticized the Nassau County Legislature and county executive’s office for failing to pass transgender anti-discrimination legislation.

“Nassau County continues to not live up to its responsibilities to protect its residents,” Kilmnick said. “It makes no sense that they haven’t acted on that, other than pure politics of division and hate.”

Nassau County is not considering any new transgender protections and has been advised by the county attorney that transgender rights are covered under current law, said Cristina Brennan, spokeswoman for the legislature.

“As written, the Nassau County Human Rights Law currently protects transgendered individuals and it is the obligation of the county to uphold those protections,” Presiding Officer Norma L. Gonsalves said.

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